Hakkasan is a high-class Oriental fusion restaurant in the West End of London. The entrance to the restaurant is at the end of the alleyway on Hanway Place just off the end of Oxford Street - almost a secret location, as it was an underground car-park in a previous life. Going down the stairs into the dark interior makes for a very mysterious first impression.
As you enter you are greeted by large bunches of orchids and the rich colours of purple, orange and red - the interior was designed by the French designer Christian Liaigre - who has fused distinctly modern aesthetic with traditional Chinese motifs. The restaurant was created by Alan Yau in 2001, who is behind the Wagamama Japanese restaurant also in London. The restaurant gained a Michelin star rating in 2003 - one of the few Chinese restaurants in the world to do so. Hakkasan is regularly ranked as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world, and also rated in the top five London restaurants.
The restaurant is oozing with the kind of sex appeal that ‘makes you feel alive’. Yes, the kitchen has a Michelin star, but diners flock here for more than exquisite, modern and authentic Cantonese cuisine. As much about fashion as gastronomy, the sophisticated subterranean restaurant and bar is flooded with a nightclub vibe that is enhanced by the moody azure lighting that is best suited to night-time, or as we were enjoying a lunch - it keep us energised as we enjoyed our dishes.
We dined on dim sum (steamed king crab noodle wrap, crispy smoked duck) - plus there are equally thrilling dishes from the carte. Jasmine tea-smoked pork ribs have a sweet, subtle smokiness, while delicately roasted fish in a syrupy of Champagne & Chinese honey sauce is a sensual and visual delight. Even the desserts are exquisite - also I suggest that you enjoy a lychee martini at the impressive long - very, very long bar (did I mention it was long).
We were hosted by the head sommelier and the restaurant wine buyer Christine Parkinson - who has created an innovative, food-focused gem of a wine-list. Christine as we found puts wines through a rigorous tasting process and if listed - they will appear under quirky headings such as ‘Harmony’ or ‘Curious Vines’ - which could easily be confusing but all becomes clear with the very knowledgeable staff, who can carefully assist you in matching with each dish.
Even though I had to leave my hosts early to catch a flight - I would rate my first Hakkasan visit as a near perfect experience. The restaurant seems to have a flawlessly table booking system - which is needed to manage the high demand from local and international dinners - I recommend you book 4-6 weeks in advance if you are visiting London. The restaurant has pre-stated dining time slots, though we were allowed to roll-over ours. A must do dining experience in the world.